The girl was on the bus with her ten-year-old sister when she was hit with the 100-franc (€92) fine.
The older sibling had a yearly pass for the local transport network but the five-year-old did not.
“My ten-year-old daughter was almost in tears because she thought she had done something wrong,” the mother of the girls told Swiss broadcaster SRF.
“The little one probably didn’t understand that had happened. But I still think it is all out of proportion to give a five-year-old a 100-franc fine,” she said.
The mother of the girls had previously believed that only children aged six and older required a ticket to travel on the city's buses. But according to the rules, small children only travel free if they are accompanied by someone aged 12 or over.
The five-year-old was therefore fined and made to sign a receipt to show she recognised why it had been given to her. This was despite the fact that the girl can hardly write.
The director of Schaffhausen’s public transport authority, Bruno Schwager, told SRF that no error had been made. The ticket inspector was following the rules imposed by Swiss national public transport organization CH-Direct, he said.
“As a gesture of goodwill, we have reduced the fine to 50 francs,” Schwager said.
A spokesperson for CH-Direct said: “We have to set a boundary somewhere. From the age of 12 on, a child can accompany a younger sibling aged under six on public transport, but we don’t want it to be younger [than that]”.
She said this was about ensuring a certain level of safety. When parents purchased a ticket, they gave permission for the child to travel, the CH-Direct spokesperson said.
For that reason, children aged under six could also be fined, she added.
The website of Swiss national rail operator SBB states the following concerning children under six: “Accompanied children under six years travel free of charge. The accompanying person must be at least 12 years old and hold a valid ticket.”